Applying for a Canada Study Permit? Confused?


May 6, 2021

We have very important Canada study permit information to update you today, May 6, 2021. We will try to help clear up at least some of any confusion you might be experiencing.

In Canada, a student visa is called a “Study Permit”. To legally study in Canada for any educational program except a very short one, almost all foreign nationals require a study permit.

About a week ago, Immigration Canada which is the national branch of government responsible for Study Permits, issued an update for students hoping to start studies for the September, 2021 intake.

In Canada, almost all students who pursue post-secondary (after high school) studies attend a university, college or polytechnic institution that receives public funding from the province or territory in which it is situated.


The most common time to begin academic studies at public institutions is the first week of every September. For this reason, every year the biggest volume of Study Permit applications is for the September session.

1. What is new?

Immigration Canada is facing is trying to perform its functions in the middle of the pandemic. There are many aspects that are slowing down its work both in Canada and for its offices in Canada's diplomatic operations overseas. For this reason, Immigration Canada wanted to alert students of what is reasonable to expect for this difficult year in study permit processing.


The new announcement states that applications for a study permit which are submitted by May 15, 2021 will be decided in time for the first week of September, 2021 (called “fall semester”).


This was the official announcement:


If we receive your complete study permit application by May 15, 2021, you’ll get a decision by August 6, 2021, in time to attend the fall semester. If you are planning to study in Quebec, you can submit your study permit application with proof you have applied for a Quebec Acceptance Certificate (CAQ).

The announcement went on to say that some student in some situations - event if they apply for a study permit by this time - may still not get their Study Permit in time because something might prevent their applications from being fully completed (like the closing of a Visa Application Centre (VAC) due to the pressures of the Covid-19 pandemic).

2. What if the study permit is not applied for by May 15, 2021?

Basically, the clear advice is to apply as soon as possible!

The official announcement says:


If you submit a complete application after May 15, 2021, we will process it as quickly as possible—but you may not get a final decision before the fall semester begins.

3. What if the study permit is not decided (no answer) before the start of the session in September, 2021?

Here it gets complicated!

These are the key points:

3.A Can the student start studies?

Yes, the student can start studies - normally there will be a requirement to pay tuition fees before doing so.

Students should check to make sure there is an option to start studies on-line.

3.B. Will there be a refund if the study permit is later refused?

It depends on each institution's policy, and for professional master degree students, the master program may have its own refund policy different from the institution’s refund policy.


The student must check with the institution or master degree program to determine what is the policy for getting a refund in the case of study permit refusal.

In some cases, institutions or master degree programs are offering special refund policies because of the pandemic. For example, the institution or program may give a later date that a student can still get a full refund by officially withdrawing from all classes. In these cases, the institution or program will also be prepared to keep the money ready for the January semester, if the student wants to start in January. This makes sense as a way to give more months to hopefully get a study permit decision. However, students should make absolutely sure that there is a January, 2022 option.

For students going to CUAC member institutions, local offices worldwide will guide as to what the refund policy will be when it is announced. Announcements about refund policies may not be available for many, many weeks.

3.C What options are there if a student is denied a study permit?

One option is that a student can apply for a formal appeal in the Federal Court of Canada. However, this takes a long time and is costly.

Another option, that is much faster and much less costly, is to make a new application for a study permit.


This only makes sense if the student can still start the program in January, 2022. Some but not all bachelor degree programs at public institutions have a January option. Most public college and polytechnic diploma and post-graduate diplomas have a January option. Some professional master degree programs have a January option but this is not so common.


A new study permit application should include new information whether about finances or any matter. New information could include proof that the student was registered, paid tuition, and was completing all coursework. Study permits are generally approved when all the academic and financial proofs are in order and satisfy Canadian immigration regulations. Make sure there are no mistakes and no information or document is missing. To prepare for a new study permit application, students should refer to the reasons given for the refusal of the first application.

4. Will on-line study count towards a Post-graduation Work Permit (PGWP)?


If a student is studying on-line in 2021 the period of study will count but only if the study permit was approved prior to the start of the semester for which the student wishes to claim PGWP credit. This is usually not relevant for students doing a program longer than 2 years because if students come in 2022 they will still complete the minimum 2 years (four full-time semesters) of study to qualify for the maximum PGWP (three years).

But for students in shorter programs such as one or two years, then this can be highly relevant to their planning. Some students may wish to defer until January 2022 if their program is available then in order to qualify for the maximum PGWP permitted by their program of studies.


To get a PGWP, students should also always make sure the institution of their intended studies is a Designated Learning Institution (DLI). All institutions receiving public funding have DLI status but not all private institutions have this status. Check with the institution to make sure it confirms that it has DLI status and also that the program of study qualifies for a PGWP.

The latest official Immigration Canada information is posted here:




For those with a Study Permit and planning to travel to Canada don’t forget to be checking on the latest travel advisories before travelling to Canada.



We welcome subscribers for those who want to keep up to date on news about studying in Canada whether its about Immigration Canada announcements, Canadian culture, preparing to study in Canada, Canadian career information or all other matters to help students successfully plan for life as a student in Canada.